Saturday, November 11, 2006

Recently I've been listening non-stop, and I mean I stop to crap or eat (both sometimes), to Yellow House by Grizzly Bear. Alex introduced me to it, the handsome devil, as one of those "you gotta hear this" kind of albums.... crapping and eating, thats it. I swear.

It swirls and swelters its way through your stereo like steam in a forest after warm rain. This is incredible considering they are a Brooklyn based quartet: where bricks are more plentiful than leaves on trees. However, that serves as no impediment to their masterful, beautiful, and painstaking music that was recorded in various apartments and old houses in upstate new york and brooklyn.

Like Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear has a penchant for drifting, non-linear songs. But where Animal Collective fails to provide a compass and map on songs like “bees” and we are ultimately lost in a dense fog, Grizzly Bear revels in the burrs in their socks and the fascinating-but-quickly-disposed-of walking sticks they pick up along the way. They stomp-clap you to your senses from the airy flutes and ambulatory banjo twangs in the song “Little Brother,” then immediately drift away into an echoing valley of incredible harmonies.

Underlying the entire album is a computerization that would never sound right juxtaposing the music but is, rather, woven into each song like metal strands in a reed basket. One can hear the clicks and beeps of sequencers in every song, but they rarely, if ever, slap you across the face with technology. The song plans starts with a minor progression and sounds like it might turn into a trudging, soldiers in the mud kind of ballad. Until you realize that it is a trudging, soldiers in the mud kind of ballad inside the internet. The zero's and one's kick in and the song turns into a glitchy clip-clopping harmony that echos and weaves through different channels. It builds and builds until there is piles of constructed noise until Grizzly Bear plink a resonating piano chord, bing, right in the middle and the whole song tumbles apart like building blocks.

And then there is On a Neck, On a Spit. Shrill chords on guitars begin with a descending sunlight melody that sheds light on the other guitars and the slide up, that takes you into the next line of singing. and the harmonies that mark the second movement of the song give one pause for reflection, float in the wind for a moment and descend. Bringing in the "each day I spend it with you now" repeating overtop of the best thunderstorm on the whole album.

The production is just as impeccable with low thumping bass drums, tinny banjoes, twinkling guitar strings and yet allows enough room for one to sit down on a log and marvel at the spaciousness of the whole thing. I do find the final track, Colorado, to be tiring sometimes. It sounds a bit too much like a gregorian chant at times, but it has its creaking, woody moments.

I haven't gotten a chance to listen to their earlier self-release called "Horn of Plenty" but I mean to track that
down and take a listen because its supposedly very good.

stream the album

On a Neck, On a Spit

1 comment:

Alex said...

I think I mentioned this to you before, but it bears repeating where more people can see/hear: someone loaded an entire Grizzly Bear concert (or so it seems) to Gootube, presented song by song for easy viewing. Even though I know you aren't into "Lullabye," the drummer makes watching the video worth it. Dude has a sweet style.